SARANAC LAKE - The 113th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival got off to a rip-roarin' start last weekend, and the festivities are far from over.
Carnival chairman Jeff Dickson said in a Feb. 8 interview that, based upon attendance at last weekend's activities, this year's Winter Carnival is "going very well thus far."
Hundreds packed the Harrietstown Town Hall the evening of Feb. 5 for the Winter Carnival coronation ceremony, the inaugural event for the 10-day festival.
And even more were in attendance, it seemed, for the ceremonial lighting of the Winter Carnival Ice Palace Feb. 6.
A crowd of at least 300 gathered along River Street and cheered loudly as, just in years past, colored flood lights illuminated the old-west-fort-themed palace and fireworks exploded overhead in a lengthy, prismatic display.
"It was a very large and enthusiastic crowd, and they seemed to really respond to the show," said Dickson, "and people seemed to appreciate the tribute to our former chairman, Don Duso."
Duso, who passed away Jan. 10 at the age of 78, was named Grand Marshall of the 2010 Winter Carnival posthumously in honor of his decades of volunteer service organizing the annual event. He had chaired the Winter Carnival committee through 2009, his 23rd and final year.
The lighting ceremony paid tribute to Duso with a stationary pyrotechnics display that put the words "Thank you Don" up in lights atop the Ice Palace along with the image of an American flag. Duso, a Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Chief with more than 50 years of service, was a Korean War veteran.
"We understand that there will be at least one wedding in the Ice Palace this year," Dickson added," and that's always fun when that happens."
Volunteers made an especially timely effort to construct this year's Ice Palace, parts of which had to be scrapped after unseasonably warm temperatures in late January caused areas of the partially-constructed structure to melt.